Understanding & Working with Addiction

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Understanding & Working with Addiction

25 July 2018


From a gestalt perspective Addictions are understood as ‘creative adjustments’
that have developed into chaotic or rigid habits of self-regulation and ‘seeking’ subjectively
experienced as “out of my control”. These habits of self-regulation can profoundly constrain
our functioning, health and relationships, as well as impair our movement towards emotional,
physical, cognitive and spiritual integration. For many clients, addictive habits of thinking,
perceiving or behaving are a core feature of their presenting struggles and are all too often
their best attempt at surviving the impact of a dys-regulated nervous system, and a misguided
attempt at meeting one’s core developmental, spiritual and existential needs.

The workshop will involve:

  • Performance scenes delivered by people with lived experience of gambling harm
    (participants of Three Sides of the Coin project), followed by discussion, and
  • An introduction to understanding and working with addiction from a gestalt

Participants will:

  • Witness, via storytelling/ theatre personal lived experience of the impacts of gambling
  • Gain a relational gestalt perspective on understanding and re-framing addictions as
    fixed creative adjustments
  • Gain skills for how to build meaning and insight into the purpose of the addiction
    using phenomenological and experimental methods of inquiry.
  • Develop relational skills and experiments to help clients resolve their dilemmas and
    resistance to change.
  • Build an understanding of the relationship between addictions and shame/guilt
    dynamics, unfinished business, trauma recovery and the wider context in which the
    client lives.
  • Develop skills to support emotional regulation and resourcing
  • Support clients to identify and work with their urges
  • Workshop methodology: The workshop will be delivered through witnessing storytelling of
    people’s lived experience of gambling, the provision of theory, use of experiential exercises,
    skill development and discussion.

Date: Wednesday 25th July
Time: 9-5.30pm
Place: Gestalt Therapy Australia, 333 Heidelberg Road, Northcote
Fee: $315 Early bird or GTA enrolled student or GTA graduate (pay before 30th June
2018) $380 Full price
To pay online: www.trybooking.com/342227

Three Sides of the Coin project, Link Health – participants with lived experience of
gambling harm, Artistic Director Catherine Simmonds, and coordinator, Judy Avisar. The
project began 5 years ago with Melbourne writer Arnold Zable running a series of storytelling
workshops for people struggling with gambling addiction. The end result was a remarkable
anthology of first person accounts about the effect of gambling on people’s lives ‘From Ruin
to Recovery – gamblers share their stories’. These stories were then dramatized into a
performance for Melbourne Writers Festival and Parliament House. Today we go out and
about with short performances to help reduce the shame and stigma of gambling addiction, to
stimulate the conversation about gambling harm, and challenge audiences to view gambling
as a public health issue. ‘These people know gambling from the inside. They had the courage
to enter into the world of their addiction…and have dared to bear witness to their painful
descents into obsession.’

You can read more and watch a 20 minute documentary about the creative process here:
Noel Haarburger BBSc, BEd(Counselling), AdvDipGestaltTherapy, ClinMGANZ, MAPS has
been a faculty member and trainer at GTA (Gestalt Therapy Australia) since 2001, and works
in full time private practice as a Psychologist, and Psychotherapist working with individuals
and couples, as well as offering supervision to allied health professionals. Noel has worked
extensively in a wide variety of counselling and psychological services services since 1995,
including most recently the role of Senior Psychologist at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre for
4 years. Previous to this he has worked in family counselling, drug and alcohol, sexual
assault, problematic gambling, men’s behavioural change programs, and the mental health
fields. Noel has a special interest in working with Trauma and Body Work, as well as
integrating Buddhist psychology and non-dual spiritual approaches into his work.


25 July 2018
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